guest post from finishing firsts: 5 Tips on How to Return After a Running Break

A MEMO FROM THE CEO OF PIP: Another one of my running inspirations is Kali at finishing firsts. Talk about someone with “true grit”, this girl is bad ass. I think this quote from her About page says it all:

I want to sit on my porch as an old woman and be able to look back, knowing that I accomplished things and had experiences that many people wished they had in their lives. I want to finish as many firsts as I possibly can. And I realize I might not get to them all. But I sure as hell am going to try.

As we both served as bloggers for this year’s 2011 Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, I was so happy to be at the finish line as she crushed another race. As a part of the guest posts series, I asked Kali to inspire me again by sharing some tips on how to get running after a running hiatus.

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Hey there PIP readers! I’m Kali and I write about running and training for marathons (and soon, ultramarathons! Eek!) over at finishing firsts. I’m really excited to be guest posting for Alicia about my favorite topic today!

If you’re like Alicia and myself and live in Northeast Ohio, you probably just enjoyed the first actual spring weekend we’ve had since, well, last year. The winter seemed like it was never going to end and the snow turned to rain and it really hasn’t stopped. It even rained on the day us proud CLE runners get to show our city off at the Cleveland Marathon.

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Some runners, like me, are crazy and ran when the temperatures dropped below zero or Mother Nature dumped more than a foot of snow in six hours. But some retreated to the treadmill or just took the winter off.

So if you did the latter, what happens now? You may have gone back out and gotten back into it with no problem and running is still the same great form of exercise that it was in the fall. But what if it’s not?

First, ask yourself, “did I maintain a moderate amount of intense cardio activity over the winter or not?” If the answer is yes, skip this next part. If not, keep reading.

You didn’t do much cardio over the winter? No matter what the reason why, you can’t take it back now, so no need to make excuses. It’s over, it’s done, time to move on. As with any training plan or diet plan, life happens and you don’t always stick to it. The good part is you’re still reading this and even just thinking about getting active again is a step in the right direction. So here’s where to get started:

  • Recognize that you’re not going to be where you were six months ago. I’ll admit, even though I did run when the wind chill was -14 or after a massive snowstorm, my motivation waned and I didn’t run nearly as much as last fall. When it came to my first race this season, I expected to set a huge, two-minute PR (personal record). What did I do? Ran two minutes slower than my PR. Be honest about what you expect out of yourself. Without that same consistency, your results will differ.
  • Start small and plan ahead. Take each day and each training run day by day. Set small goals and plan your training accordingly. Set goals like “I will run a total of 15 miles each week for two weeks.” See how that goes and increase slowly from there. Planning your training out and reviewing it in small chunks helps keep you focused. It all goes back to the old adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Make a calendar, post it on your fridge, whatever works for you.

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So now that you’ve done that, what’s next? Or maybe you read my directions and skipped that last part. What now?

  • Pick a goal race. So you’re running consistently again. One of the best ways to help you stick with it and provide some motivation is to have a goal race in sight. Depending on your level and your “everything else that happens in my life schedule,” pick a race that’s far enough away you have time to train smart, but close enough you don’t forget about it. (Like how, I registered for the Chicago Marathon at the beginning of February. It’s been in the back of my mind forever, but I always forget I’m running it since it’s not until October!) Don’t just put the race on your calendar either, pay the money and if you want, commit to a charitable partner. The more time and money you invest, the more likely you are to stick with it.
  • Stick to the plan. The key to any training plan, whether it be running, biking, weight lifting, eating healthy, whatever, is consistency (can you tell I’m a personal trainer yet?) There might be days where you don’t do as much as you planned or something comes up at work and you can’t do what was planned. That’s OK. That’s life and it happens time to time. Pick up where you left off and keep going. Maintain consistency!
  • Reward yourself! My biggest motivator is new clothes (and race medals). A reward doesn’t always have to be something huge or expensive, but something to pat yourself on the back for keeping up with it. For me, there’s few things more exciting in life than opening a shoe box and getting to wear them the first time. (I just really made my life sound really exciting, right?)

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Good luck with your next running goal and happy running!

Watch Kali cross even more finish lines over at her blog (http://finishingfirsts.com/) and on Twitter (@finishingfirsts). Catch her if you can!

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2 thoughts on “guest post from finishing firsts: 5 Tips on How to Return After a Running Break

  1. Pingback: not here today! « Finishing Firsts

  2. Pingback: How I’ll Find Happiness in 2011: Nurturing Social Relationships in May « poise in parma

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